18 dic. 2007

When it's dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me
because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,
and pour a little hard water over my shoes
so that the scorpion claw of the dawn will slip off.

Here's Robert Bly attempting a stanza of Lorca. I've put in bold the elements that do not correspond to any element in the original stanza.

"Cloth" is Bly's translation of "velo" [veil, shroud]. You can almost read the translator's mind:

"What does velo mean again? Oh yeah, some sort of cloth." Bly does that with Machado too, translating "Quimera/ Chimera" as "mythological beast."

What motivates this kind of translation? It cannot be fidelity to the original OR a desire to create "a new poem in English" blah blah blah because redundancy, verbosity, etc.. are not usually considered to be more poetically effective in contemporary English. So I think that those who see those two goals as fundamentally opposed do not realize that sometimes neither factor comes into play. Often, too, the literal choice will actually be more effective as poetry in English (surprise, surprise) because it just works out that way.

I don't think vandalism is the motive either, because Bly is no Dadaist. I am befuddled.

{Cúbreme por la aurora con un velo
porque me arrojará puñados de hormigas,
y moja con agua dura mis zapatos
para que resbale la pinza de su alacrán

Cover me at dawn with a shroud
for [it] will throw fistful of ants at me,
and drench my shoes with harsh water
so the claw of [its] scorpion will slip}

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